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Last Updated Friday October 20 2017 12:16 PM IST

When Swami Vivekananda toured Kerala

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When Swami Vivekananda toured Kerala

On Swami Vivekananda's birthday, which is celebrated as National Youth Day, we go back in time and take a look at his brief sojourn to Kerala, and how it all came about.

According to historians, Swami Vivekananda had planned to travel through Bengaluru, Mysuru, Chennai and end his journey at Rameshwaram during his tour of India. But a chance meeting with Dr Palpu in Bengaluru changed these plans. Dr Palpu, spoke at length to Swami Vivekananda about 'untouchability' and other caste based issues which plagued Kerala during that time.

When Swami Vivekananda toured Kerala A rare picture of Swami Vivekananda. Photo: Advaita Ashram, published in The Week.

Dr Palpu explained that he, a person belonging to a lower caste could not practice medicine in his own home town, despite having been educated in Europe. This was something Swami Vivekananda thought was irrational. He advised Dr Palpu to rally up support from his community and make their voices be heard. Swami Vivekananda also decided to travel to Kerala and visit Kanyakumari instead of the earlier plan.

Swami Vivekananda reached Shornur by rail in November of 1892 and then proceeded on a bullock-cart to Thrissur. The rest of the journey to the then Travancore was by boat. On the way, he wanted to visit the Kodungaloor temple. But he was not given permission to enter the temple despite waiting for three days. This experience was what made him say that he had walked into a 'lunatic asylum'. He visited Chattambi Swami in Ernakulam and held then went to Travancore.

When Swami Vivekananda toured Kerala The shrine at Vivekananda Rock, Kanyakumari. Photo: Onmanorama

Swami Vivekananda stayed in Travancore and held discussions with the royal family and other famous people of those times. Prince Marthanda Varma, was impressed so much by the Swami that he led long discussions with him about his travels across the country. The prince, who was an avid photographer took a photo of Swami Vivekananda which is part of a museum collection now.

When Swami Vivekananda toured Kerala Swami Vivekananda at the World Parliament of Religions. Photo: By arrangement with The Week

From Thiruvananthapuram he left for Kanyakumari, where he meditated for three days. There are many people who say that Swami Vivekananda decided to address the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago while he was meditating at Kanyakumari. And that, opened up a new era. Swami Vivekananda once said, 'Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached'. And we still have miles to go.

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